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Red Funnel warned against job cuts

5 October 2020

Nautilus International has warned ferry operator Red Funnel against swingeing cuts to permanent jobs that could leave it at risk of operational failures next summer.

The Isle of Wight ferry operator plans to pare down staffing to reduced levels, opting to rely on casualised labour over the peak summer months.

Management claims that 13 crew can operate the planned winter ro-ro timetable, with five crew operating its reduced hi-speed services. It plans to retain 15 ro-ro crew and seven hi-speed crew.

Nautilus organiser Martyn Gray said: 'The plans are undoubtedly workable for a short period and with no other staffing difficulties, but the company is in a unique position in which to retain key skills and prepare for the summer of 2021 and its future operational plans - as well as maximise resilience.'

In September Red Funnel said it was looking to make more use of fixed-term employment during summer. 

Casualisation can be defined as the transformation of a workforce from one employed chiefly on permanent contracts to one engaged on a short-term or casual basis. Fixed-term contracts are an element of casualisation when these replace permanent employment opportunities.

Nautilus believes there is no need to make redundancies at Red Funnel.

'We believe the next six months can be utilised in support of the summer season and improving operational flexibility,' Mr Gray said. 'The company believe its proposal does this sufficiently already. It is unfortunate that the conclusion of consultation has not led to the company better understanding the need to support additional training, safety and resilience, especially in light of the potential to utilise the government Job Support Scheme to retain their highly skilled and experienced workforce'

A total of 120 employees have been placed at risk of redundancy at Red Funnel, with 12 new roles under consideration.

This article was edited to include an explanation of 'casualisation' and 'fixed-term'.